Oct 28 2010

Friends, Guns, Roses And Burgers

Category: Eating Out,Friends,PicturesChrisM @ 2:35 am

These are the pictures I previously mentioned. DanD, Walton and I all met up with DanC (who was back in Astana for the weekend) for a meal and a few drinks. Although DanD and I had already been to this bar since the Guns n’ Roses chain had taken it over from Northwind’s management, we weren’t sure if the prices, ambience, layout and staff attentiveness were all just boosted for their opening week, or whether we could consider adding it to our list of regular haunts.
As it turned out, the G n’ R management seem to have noticed all the little issues that prevented North Wind from ever really filling up with customers, and addressed them from the very start. The layout of the bar and surrounding tables has been changed, the prices, whilst not cheap, are certainly a lot more reasonable than previously, and the menu (in both English and Russian) has enough variety (from traditional Western bar food to steaks and garlic bread) to meet most people’s needs. Both times we have been there, there was live music and the normal tables were full up with people enjoying themselves. Finally, the dance floor was occupied most of the evening.

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Aug 11 2010

Käwap Restaurant For Another Birthday Celebration

Category: Anna's Photos,Eating Out,Friends,PicturesChrisM @ 7:00 pm

Another post where I’ve taken a few individual tweets and tidied them into one entry. 11th August was my mother-in-law’s birthday, the day after Ira and my wedding anniversary. We headed on downstairs to the new Azerbaijani restaurant located on the ground floor of our building. We hadn’t tried it before, and there was no one else there during our meal, so we were assured of their undivided attention 🙂 Losha’s parents (Igor and Natalya) joined us, and over all Anna was pretty well behaved.

First up we have a quick picture of a salad that was ordered. It doesn’t come out so well with a wobbly camera phone shot, but in the middle of the plate is a radish carved into a rose shape. Very pretty. Personally I have no idea how it tasted, as I’m not a huge fan of rabbit food (meat, potatoes and pasta are my favourite core ingredients), but no one seemed to complain.

Radish Rose - Really!

Radish Rose - Really!

They didn’t have any highchairs, and after trying to get Anna to repeat her previous good behaviour in such situations, we gave up and grabbed the one from our kitchen.

There was in fact no turkey sashliq despite it being on menu. This has happened in a few places in Astana. If you have your hopes set on a certain dish before you arrive, best to phone ahead and speak to someone first. Otherwise a good selection of various sashliqs (kebabs). We asked for something without any bone or lots of gristle (I love the taste of meat, but hate thinking about the fact that it used to be an animal. If steak wasn’t so tasty, I might have been converted into a vegetarian in another life. That would mean eating vegetables though. Anyway, I digress…). When the kebab arrived, it was on the bone still. The waitress didn’t seem to understand why we were surprised to see bone in a dish she recommended for having no bone.

Considering that the décor and ambience of the place was reasonably up market, the vodka & beer was reasonably priced. The baursaki were tasty, but most definitely reheated to make them seem over fresh. Better than stone cold and greasy to be honest 🙂 The chicken lyalya (spelling ?) shashliq was tasty. Basically minced chicken shaped into a sort of sausage shape.

Chicken Kebab - No Bones

Chicken Kebab - No Bones

At one point Anna seemed to get a bit bored, and decided to get the camera out. I’ve not yet checked the memory card to see the sort of shots achieved.

Anna In Her Highchair

Anna In Her Highchair

Finally, during a cigarette break outside, I took a quick picture of the restaurant name. I couldn’t step any further back, so had to take a diagonal shot. Luckily our WiFi signal just reaches downstairs to this point, so I was able to upload some pics without using up my KCell credit 🙂

I'll Rewrite This Caption When I Know How To Spell The Name

I'll Rewrite This Caption When I Know How To Spell The Name

oh, I’m hoping someone can correct me on the correct spelling in latin characters for the restaurant?

Thanks to Oleg and Walton for their help with the spelling, I’ve updated the post to reflect this.

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Jul 06 2010

Better Than Expected

Category: Eating Out,Friends,Personal,VideosChrisM @ 1:58 am

OK, so to clarify the tweets, twitpics and Qik videos from Sunday night, here is what happened… Irina’s friend from work had recommended a summer “café” in Astana park, near the river. (See below for the approximate location thanks to Google Maps.) Originally I had intended to check it out whilst watching a World Cup match or two, but friends and friends of friends already had their heart set on a different venue. So when it came to Independence Day (4th of July), we asked Walton and Assel if they would like to try out La Rivière. We arrived to find that it was less a café (which some would assume meant it was not as expensive as some restaurants), but decided to try it out anyway.
We knew there was the possibility of some live musical entertainment from Irina’s friend’s description, and we weren’t disappointed. When I saw the female singer (see previous posts for the male), my first impression was that she looked very good, and I therefore assumed that her vocal talents might not be as impressive. Although a few songs seemed to be outside of her comfort zone, the recordings below don’t really do her justice for the most part…

View Larger Map

The lady singer preparing for her show at Rivière.

Here we have her version of You’ll See by Madonna, as well as a quick glimpse of a hookah/hubbly bubbly/water pipe that we had (water melon and grape was the flavour tobacco we chose I think.)

This time she is singing “Sweet About Me”, and another quick shot of the hookah

This was a cover of the Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

Penultimately we have Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop The Music”

And finally, she sang “Its A Wonderful Life” (Black I think? A group that has a colour as their name at least.)

The food was quite expensive, and there was apparently only a choice of two beers. However the cheeseburger (I know, I’m a classy guy 😉 ) was tasty, and the local Line Brew was relatively cheap and appeared to have alcohol in it 🙂 The samsas that were supposed to be a starter didn’t arrive until after the main course, but were OK. The service was great (especially by local standards), though if your company has given you a discount card for La Rivière, be aware that there has apparently been a management change, so these cards are no longer accepted. The water pipe was nice (we didn’t splash out on the extra money required to have a pineapple used as the charcoal bowl), and when the charcoals had died out, they didn’t try and charge us for more, so we were able to finish off the tobacco. The big screen (well projector and screen) looks like it could be good for the next World Cup match we go out to watch, though we may need to reserve a table in advance. Overall, I’d recommend this place if your budget isn’t tight, or if you only plan to have a couple of drinks and want to chill out outdoors, with the possibility of live entertainment.

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Jul 06 2010

Dozing Or Discovering?

Category: Anna's PhotosChrisM @ 1:13 am
Sleeping Or Seeking? You Decide...

Sleeping Or Seeking? You Decide...

Before I carry on with the videos from our Fourth of July (American Independence Day) meal with Walton and Assel, here we have a picture from just over four months ago – March the 2nd was when the photo was taken. I can’t quite tell whether Anna fell asleep during her meal, after a hard morning’s work, or simply dropped her cheese and was trying to relocate it. Hopefully Irina can come along and clarify things? Anyway, I noticed I had one Anna photo post, and one Anna video left in my drafts area for some reason. I’ll try and crack on with the rest of the UK based ones soon. We haven’t been taking as many here in Astana, so it shouldn’t take as long to catch up with them.

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Jul 04 2010

Walton and Assel at a summer c…

Category: Eating Out,Friends,Pictures,TweetsChrisM @ 7:54 pm

Walton and Assel at a summer café next to the river Ishim – http://twitpic.com/22dpwl

Celebrating Escaping From The Brits Day

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Jul 04 2010

At La Rivière’s Summer Café …

Category: Eating Out,Friends,Pictures,TweetsChrisM @ 7:41 pm

At La Rivière’s Summer Café with Walton & Assel – lovely evening & company. Details for contact – http://twitpic.com/22dl8n

Back Page Of La Riviere's Menu

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Jun 06 2010

Anna’s Playhouse

Category: Anna's Videos,FriendsChrisM @ 8:16 pm

A quick compilation of clips shots today in Chubary. Featuring Anna, Assel, Walton, Irina and Ira’s Mum.
Guest starring Anna’s new play area and house in the garden…

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Apr 25 2010

Bigger Belts Because Of A Birthday?

Category: Friends,PersonalChrisM @ 1:57 pm

This week I had my 31st birthday. We (myself, Irina, her Mum and Anna) went out on Tuesday to a TGI Friday, where I thoroughly enjoyed the custom cocktail, fried & bread-crumbed mozerella, a proper bacon cheeseburger with chips and then a delicious chocolate brownie based dessert. Come Friday we had Walton (Assel was away), JohnA and Inessa, DanD and Lara and all the children from the aforementioned families all come over, the idea being that people would be able to relax and drink a little more with a delayed birthday celebration bringing the “morning after” to a Saturday, instead of a work day. Irina went out and bought a couple of kilograms of good meat, and cooked some beautiful home made burgers and other delicious courses. It was good to see everyone, especially in one place.

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Jan 18 2010

Christmas Day Meal

Category: Anna's Photos,FriendsChrisM @ 11:57 pm

After saying goodbye to Walton we relaxed for a few hours at home with Anna, and then travelled over to JohnA’s for a delicious Christmas Day meal. This was the first year I wasn’t at home in Britain for Christmas with Mum et al, so I was really glad to be in a friendly and happy atmosphere with Anna and Irina. DanD and his family were there, as well as Innessa’s parents, which meant I wasn’t alone in toasting the day with vodka and beer, rather than wine 🙂 The food was great, and we even had some entertainment laid on – you’ll need to wait for the video to catch a clip of that…

Anna, DanD and a Dombra T-Shirt Model

Anna, DanD and a Dombra T-Shirt Model

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Jan 18 2010

Christmas Day Morning With Anna

Category: Anna's Photos,FriendsChrisM @ 11:26 pm

So, these photos of Anna were taken on the 25th of December… Something about that date rings a bell…
Oh well, sure it’ll come back to me. Walton had seen in the transition of 24th/25th with us, and wasn’t driving home straight away for once, meaning we could all have a few drinks together properly, for the first time in ages.
This was obviously Anna’s first Christmas, and although it isn’t really noticed/celebrated by locals over here, we had a great day, though it was sad Assel had to work both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – we’re hoping we’ll manage to meet up with them once they return from their trip to America, before we head over to Britain.
Later on in the day we went to another friend who was hosting a proper Christmas Day dinner, but these photos are just from the morning, where we ate, drank a little and Anna opened her presents…

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